This month happens to be October. It can be a beautiful month in some parts of the world with leaves changing and beautiful scenery.
It also happens to be pregnancy and infant loss awareness month. Throughout the month of October, some of those who have lost a pregnancy, had a stillbirth, lost an infant to SIDS or to a tragic event try and share their stories and post about pregnancy and infant loss to try and increase awareness and erase the stigma that it should be something to keep quiet. Of course, those who lost don’t only remember in October. They remember every day of their lives. But this month can be used to help educate those around us.
If you have never lost before then it is hard to know what to do when someone close to you does.
If you have lost, someone may be grieving differently than you and need different things than you did.
But here are some things I believe all those who have lost need, whether they say they do or not:
- A listening ear: They need to know someone is there to listen to their grief, their sadness, their rage, their anxiety, their guilt, their everything they are feeling. They don’t need someone to tell them differently and say what their feeling isn’t true. It is all very REAL to them. Of course, offer some encouragement, but do not offer any judgement.
- Someone to take them out: Even if it is just for coffee, or to a movie, or somewhere out of their normal surroundings. Maybe not right away..let them have their time. But soon, they need someone to push them to get some fresh air.
- Food: Make them freezable meals or buy gift cards to places that deliver food. Ask others to do so as well. And not just for the first week after the loss. There are days where they will feel ok and be able to make a meal, and then out of nowhere grief will take over and they just can’t adult that day. It will be nice to know there is a meal in the freezer or a gift card to order some food so they really don’t have to think about it that much.
- People to remember the child they lost: No matter how early or late they lost in a pregnancy or if they lost a baby who had already been born, they want people to remember. If there was a name given to the child, speak of the child’s name. I have not met someone who doesn’t want the child (or children) lost to not be remembered. You may feel uncomfortable, but do it anyway.
- Offers to babysit/clean/grocery shop, etc.: If they have other children, sometimes they just need some time to be by themselves. Offer to babysit, free of charge. Give them dates you are available and tell them to pick instead of waiting for them to come to you. Offer to come over to help clean, do laundry, get some grocery shopping or errands done. Those things really add up.
- Buy or create something in memory of who they lost. There are so many great ideas out there. Just Google it and I am sure you will find something that they will like.
Parents who lost usually do not like to approach others to ask them for help. We can tell them to reach out whenever they need anything, but most likely they won’t. Reach out to them. Ask them to really be honest about their needs and then help fill those needs for them. The support of people around them is huge in the healing process and understand grief takes on many forms and can come out of nowhere. Be there for them. They will be so grateful.